Jiyu Tang Soup – Answering Your Questions + Recipe

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Jiyu tang soup is a Chinese carp soup often regarded for its milky consistency and deep umami flavor. This soup goes by many names including “creamy fish soup” and “Nai Bai Yu Tang” and is enjoyed often with tofu, green onions, ginger, and fish. In this article, we will explore exactly how to go about making this popular dish, as well as clear up any confusion there might be surrounding its preparation. 

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Interested in learning more? Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

Jiyu Tang Soup

How to Make Jiyu Tang Soup

Jiyu tang is an easy and delicious Chinese soup recipe, but there are certain steps you’ll want to follow to ensure that it turns out just right.

Many in Chinese culture purchase small fish for this soup. But you can also purchase one whole fish to accomplish the same task.

Bear in mind that purchasing smaller fish will enable you to extract more flavor. This is why many Asian people prefer this route.

Still, a larger fish will suffice for this recipe as well. Even fish bones will work if you have them. 

Before delving into the recipe, we want you to know a few things.

First, despite the creamy consistency that you may witness in the soup, jiyu tang is traditionally dairy-free. Surprisingly, its milky appearance actually comes from high heat and the fat that excretes from the meat and bone of the fish at such a high temperature. This is also what gives the soup its umami flavor.

Jiyu Tang Soup

Additionally, you should know that despite this being a carp soup, using any type of whole fish here will work. So long as the fish is white and is mild-tasting. Some of the best options include whole trout, tilapia, or bass. 

Typically this soup is flavored with green onions, ginger, and water. Again, most of the flavor comes from fat emulsified throughout the water which is also responsible for its consistency. 

It’s our hope that you thoroughly enjoy this popular Asian soup. And now, we are ready to present to you exactly what you need to make it!

wok setup for chinese cooking

Jiyu Tang Chinese Soup Recipe


  • 1 medium or 2 small whole fish (trout, tilapia, or other white fish with mild taste)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-inch long ginger piece
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Boiling hot water
  • 8 ounces of medium or soft tofu
  • 1 teaspoon table salt


Time needed: 35 minutes.

Jiyu Tang Soup Recipe

  1. Prepare tools

    Begin by preparing your workspace. You’ll need to prepare your fish before starting, and you’ll also need a wok, cast-iron skillet, or a dutch oven that can take very high heat for this recipe.

  2. Prepare fish

    The first step is to clean your fish. You’ll want to make sure to rinse the fish and pat it dry if it’s already been gutted and descaled. If not, remove the liver and guts, and also the scales using a knife. Ensure that there are no blood membranes remaining. It is optional to remove the fins in this process. Though not required, it may be beneficial to keep the head and tail intact when preparing your fish, as this often provides more flavor to the soup. 

  3. Slice and salt fish

    Once your fish has been properly prepared, rinse and pat dry the fish once more and place it on its side on a chopping board. If you’re using a medium fish, make several slits along the side of your fish and sprinkle salt in the slits as well as on the exterior of the fish and on the interior. If you choose to use smaller fish, it may not be necessary to make slits, though you’ll still want to salt the fish throughout. Allow your fish to sit in this salt for at least 15 minutes before continuing on to the next step.

  4. Oil up pan

    Once your fish has finished marinating in salt, you can begin to prepare to cook it. Prepare your wok or high-heat pan by adding oil to it, but don’t cut on the heat just yet.

  5. Prepare other ingredients

    Slice your green onions, ginger, and tofu. Generally, your tofu should be sliced into 1-inch long pieces, while your ginger and green onions can be sliced into thin, long pieces.

  6. Turn up the heat

    Once your ginger, tofu, and green onions are prepared, turn your stove to high and wait for the oil to get hot. Be sure to move quickly and to watch your food as you cook, as cooking over high heat like this can be dangerous unattended, and at the very least, can result in scorched food.

  7. Sauté

    Add your green onions and ginger to the hot oil and sauté them for a few minutes until they become fragrant. 

  8. Cook fish

    Add your dried fish to the pan and leave it there to brown, for about 2-3 minutes on high heat on both sides. Be careful not to move your fish around much during this time as the goal is to maintain a high temperature to render the fat for creaminess. It is okay if some of the skin sticks to the pan.

  9. Add water and tofu

    Once both sides of your fish have become seared, add your boiling hot water to the pan, enough to immerse the fish. You’ll hear loud sizzling sounds which is exactly what you want. Add tofu pieces at this point. 

  10. Boil

    Boil your fish at high heat for about 5 minutes, before lowering the temperature to medium-low and placing on a top. Simmer it this way for about 10-15 minutes. 

  11. Salt

    Once finished, remove the top, turn off the heat, and add one teaspoon of table salt. 

  12. Serve

    Add a few fish pieces to a bowl (if you wish–there will still be bones in the meat) along with a few pieces of tofu and ladle in the broth for serving.

Jiyu Tang Fish Soup Recipe: Delectably Simple!

Jiyu tang fish soup is easy to make and is remarkably delicious. Seasoned with flavorful ingredients like white fish, ginger, and green onions, this soup is perfect for enjoying on chilly days when you want something warm and tasty. It also doesn’t break the bank.

We hope you’ll try this creamy Chinese fish soup…Enjoy!

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What is jiyu tang soup?

“Jiyu” is crucian carp in Chinese, and “tang” means soup. This is a milky white fish soup from China.

Does jiyu tang have milk?

The milky white color is from fish fat extracted from the fish at high temperature, so this is a dairy-free soup.

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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